Chonde leads from the back

Chonde leads from the back

In every establishment, there is always that person whose presence and contribution comes in to complete the puzzle.

The nascent Malawi film industry is blessed with talented individuals who have different strengths and qualities that complement each other. But there is a cog that is always there. The one that every project seems to lean on. That is actor Edwin Chonde.

He is often spoken of. He rarely makes headlines out of the stars he performs with. But he is apparently the first name that comes to mind when every producer and director has a film project.

Actress-cum-producer Joyce Mhango-Chavula said: “He is an exceptional talent. It is hard to find someone his age who is passionate about acting, so he comes in handy for most producers.

Chonde plays headteacher in Fatsani

“What really separates him from the rest is the way he inhabits his characters. He takes time to understand; he asks questions and makes suggestions where necessary. He is a big name in the industry, but he remains humble. I can work with him anytime and any day.”

In his career, Chonde has featured in a number of top Malawian film productions, including Fatsani, A Tale of Survival, Highbrow, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, Sowing Seeds, Lilongwe and Virginity Policy.

If you look at the profile of the aforementioned movies, you will get a good picture of what an acting giant Chonde is. As crucial as he has become, but his beginning was just as humble as it can be.

“It was during my Sunday School days in Kanjedza, Blantyre. Our teacher was casting for a biblical play, Prodigal Son. I was not among his first preferences for that particular role. Everyone who auditioned came short. I was then roped in. After the actual performance, I received a resounding ovation,” he told On The Arts.

Chonde says despite the praise that he received for his role, acting did not mean anything to him. But it was while at William Murry Secondary School in Lilongwe where his colleagues introduced him to scripted productions during the national schools drama festivals when he appreciated his talent fully.

The actor says the grooming that he received as he took his acting baby steps complemented his natural passion for storytelling.

“As a child, anybody who would ask me to tell them a story, that person automatically became my friend. In turn I made sure I associated myself with great orators too,” he says.

Among his inspirations, Chonde mentions Malawi Broadcasting Corporations drama production Theatre of the Air, actors such as Charles Severe, Du Chisiza Jnr, Chipiliro Matiya and Frank Patani Mwase as being the forces that helped light his acting career path.

Having starred in other people’s productions for some time, the Lilongwe-based artist says his ultimate dream is to direct his own movie. He says he has written several scripts which are yet to be developed due to lack of resources.

Just like many other players in the film industry, the 53-year-old actor wishes the corporate world took a leading role in assisting the industry like funding for productions such as television series as is the case in other countries.

He says: “All over the world corporates are always directly involved in arts. Actors are taken on board as brand ambassadors for organisations and products. That is not the case here. We just go it alone. But movies are expensive to produce and it requires a sound financial backing.”

Film Association of Malawi president Gift ‘Sukez’ Sukali described Chonde as a multi-talented actor who has his way of making things work and that they always look up to him for his experience and knowledge. 

“He is professional and experienced. He can switch from one character to another in a blink of an eye. I have worked with him on a couple of projects. He acts the good guy today and a villain tomorrow. He is that good,” he said. 

Chonde is trained as a teacher and he currently works with Village Schools Malawi where he is teaching at Katawa Village Secondary School in Nanjiri, Lilongwe as part of the organisation’s project.

The artist is a resident of Chilinde Township in Lilongwe. He is married and has two children.

The post Chonde leads from the back first appeared on The Nation Online.

The post Chonde leads from the back appeared first on The Nation Online.

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